Today, House Speaker John Boehner made an aggressive opening move in the negotiations over the so-called fiscal cliff: he said that Obamacare had to be on the table in terms of cost-cutting. Them’s fightin’ words.
In an editorial in the Cincinnati Enquirer, Boehner wrote: "We can't afford it, and we can't afford to leave it intact. That's why I've been clear that the law has to stay on the table as both parties discuss ways to solve our nation's massive debt challenge."
Boehner, of course, is exactly correct; over the next 10 years, Obamacare is slated to cost in excess of $2 trillion. And that’s if everything works out as expected. If the federal government has to pick up the tab for setting up health care exchanges in a huge number of states, that cost will skyrocket.
Boehner’s newfound spine on Obamacare is undoubtedly a partial result of the backlash against his comments in the aftermath of the 2012 election that Obamacare was the “law of the land.” In the Enquirer he wrote, “With President Obama and his party still in control of most of Washington, stopping Obamacare will require both bold state leadership and vigorous oversight by members of the House of Representatives.”
Now’s the time for such leadership. If Boehner truly understands that, Republicans may finally have found the leverage they need to actually achieve a workable solution to the fiscal cliff.